188 West Randolph Street — Randolph Tower (Steuben Club Building)
188 West Randolph Street Chicago, IL
Video: Central's Role in the Restoration of Randolph Tower
The terra-cotta clad Steuben Club Building was built in 1929.
To access the first 27 stories, mast climbers were used.
Pipe scaffold was used to access the tower of the building.
View of the tower pipe scaffold.
The Randolph Street elevation during the height of the renovation.
FRP panels were installed at the building window heads and tower parapet walls in order to reduce the number of terra cotta pieces necessary. The Installation of one panel was less expensive than a full assembly of terra cotta.
Central employees remove a terra cotta unit for replacement.
Buttresses at the 38th floor were completely dismantled and rebuilt, including the addition of new gargoyles which now look out over the city.
Gargoyles were re-created above the buttresses.
View looking up at the tower near floor 38. The terra cotta was temporarily meshed in to prevent pieces from dislodging and falling to the street below.
View looking up at the tower near floor 38 following Central's repairs.
The ground floor was rebuilt to match the original design.
Restored floors 24-34, with the new roof deck in view.
Forged and constructed in the late 1920s as "The Steuben Club Building", the 46 story 188 West Randolph became the city's unfortunate poster child for building neglect. Decades of poor or minimal maintenance eventually resulted in a major collapse of masonry from the building's 18 story tower section in 2001. Debris crashed down on the "El" tracks of Chicago's brown line. Fortunately, nobody was killed or injured. However, the City of Chicago reacted to this incident by temporarily closing down the train line and forcing building ownership to erect protective canopies which extended over the train tracks and across Wells Street. Faced with a repair budget which exceeded the value of the building in 2000, the owners eventually lost the property to bankruptcy. The building remained virtually vacant for over a decade with canopies extending along the Wells and Randolph Street sidewalks.
The Building was purchased out of bankruptcy and the new developer – Randolph Tower City Apartments LLC – engaged Central to assist in the rehabilitation. Following several years of planning, Central began the ambitious task of restoring the facades of this classic Gothic Revival skyscraper to its original splendor. The rehabilitation of Randolph Tower would become the largest masonry restoration project in the history of Chicago. In the span of only two years, Central removed over 40,000 pieces of terra cotta. In total, over 14,000 units were replaced with new terra cotta, approximately 16,000 units were restored and re-installed, and almost 10,000 units were replaced with Fibre Reinforced Plastic (FRP) to replicate the masonry in areas where replacement with terra cotta was not economically feasible. Salvaged terra cotta units were used as models for reproduction and the original terra cotta shop drawings (housed at the National Building Museum in Washington DC) were utilized to assist in replication. In addition, Central restored the two rear (brick masonry) elevations of the building.
Reopening in 2012 as the Randolph Tower City Apartments, the building once again showcased its gothic nature with reconstructed buttresses, tracery, and a brand new storefront to replicate the original 1929 storefront. In full compliance with historic restoration standards, Randolph Tower is no longer an eye sore one block west of City Hall. Today, Randolph Tower stands as a shining example of preservation, adaptive reuse, and partnership.